April 21, Tuesday
We spent several days in Philippi; and on the Sabbath day we went out of the city gate to the riverside, where we hoped to find a place for prayer. We joined the group of women who had assembled, among them a woman named Lydia who came from Thyatira and was a dealer in purple-dyed cloth. She was already a believer in God, and the Lord opened her heart to accept Paul’s words. After she and her household had been baptized, she invited us to her home, saying, “If you accept that I am a true believer in the Lord, then come down to my house and stay there.” She persisted until we had agreed.
Once, on our way to the place of prayer, we were met by a young girl who had a spirit of divination and who brought her owners a good deal of profit by foretelling the future. She kept following Paul and the rest of us, crying out, “These men serve the Most High God. They offer a way of salvation.”
She kept it up for several days until Paul could take it no longer. He turned and spoke to the spirit in her, saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” Immediately it left her.
When the girl’s owners saw that their source of income was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities in the market square. There they presented them to the chief magistrates, charging, “These Jews are causing a great confusion in our city by proclaiming customs which it is illegal for us as Roman citizens to accept or practice.” The crowd joined in the attack. The magistrates had them stripped and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After giving them a severe beating, they threw them into prison, instructing the jailer to guard them closely. Assuming they were dangerous criminals, he took them into the inner jail and fastened their feet securely in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. The other prisoners were listening to them when suddenly there was a great earthquake strong enough to shake the foundations of the prison. All the doors flew open and everyone’s chains fell off. When the jailer woke and saw that the doors of the prison had been opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, for he imagined that all the prisoners had escaped. But Paul called out to him in a loud voice, saying, “Don’t hurt yourself; we are all here!”
Then the jailer called for lights, rushed in, and overcome with fear, fell trembling at the feet of Paul and Silas. He led them outside, and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Put your trust in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.”
There, in the middle of the night, Paul and Silas explained to him and his family the word of the Lord. The jailer washed their wounds, and he and his family were baptized right then. He then took them into his house for a meal. He and his whole household were overjoyed at finding faith in God.
When morning came, the magistrates sent officers with the message, “Let those men go.”
The jailer reported this message to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to have you released. So now you can leave this place and go on your way in peace.”
But Paul said to the officers, “They beat us publicly without any kind of trial, and they threw us into prison despite the fact that we are Roman citizens. And now they think they can send us away quietly? Oh no, let them come and take us out themselves!”
When the officers reported to the magistrates that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were extremely afraid and came in person to apologize to them. After taking them outside the prison, they asked them to leave the city. But upon their release from prison Paul and Silas went to Lydia’s house. Only after seeing the brothers and encouraging them did they depart from Philippi.
Their journey took them through Amphipolis and Apollonia and finally to Thessalonica where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was his custom, Paul attended each Sabbath, explaining from the Scriptures why the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is God’s Messiah!” he declared. Some of them were convinced and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of Greeks and leading women in the city.
But the Jews, motivated by jealousy, rallied a bunch of troublemakers in the marketplace to start a city-wide riot against Paul and Silas. They ransacked Jason’s house looking for them. When they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the civic authorities, shouting, “The men who have turned the world upside down have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. Besides that, they violate the decrees of Caesar by claiming that there is another king called Jesus!” This really unnerved the local authorities who would only release Jason and the others after they pledged to cooperate.